For the few years that Afghanistan as been a part of South Asian football, they have been one of the most dominant teams in the region — the other being India.
Both these teams had made it to the previous two finals of the SAFF Championships, with both of them getting one win each. With the 2015/16 SAFF Championshis being the last time that Afghanistan would be participating in the tournament, it would be the last opportunity for either of these teams to steal a march over the other, in terms of head-to-head victories in the SAFF Cup final. However, it may be a bit too difficult for host nation India, as the Afghans have been rampant this time round, scoring at an average of four goals per match. Let’s take a look at the two occasions both India and Afghanistan met, in the SAFF Cup finals.
2011 SAFF Championship Final, New Delhi, India
India 4-0 Afghanistan
This was the first time the inexperienced Afghans were taking the field in the tournament, but they showed absolutely no fear as they made their way to the final. In the final however, they were met with an Indian side that was playing in their national capital, and had already won the tournament five times.
The scoreline however did not reflect the match, which was quite tight till the last 20 minutes, when the Indians scored all the four goals of the match. Both Sunil Chhetri and Jeje who are set to feature in the finals were on the scoresheet in that match. The other two goals were scored by Sushil Kumar and Clifford Miranda. It must also be kept in mind that Afghanistan held India to a 1-1 draw in the group stage of the tournament.
2013 SAFF Championship Final, Kathmandu, Nepal
Afghanistan 2-0 India
The equation was completely different this time round. Afghanistan were a much more experienced and a well-versed side now, and were ready to challenge the supremacy of the Indians in the South Asian region. Also the fact that the match was being played at a neutral venue meant that Afghanistan would have gotten far more support than they did, last time round.
With this factor, the Afghans dominated the match, as Mustafa Azadzoy and Sandjar Ahmadi scored in both the halves to give the Lions of Khorasan earned their first SAFF Championship title ever. The Indians did get a couple of chances in the match, with Sunil Chhetri getting the closest to finding the back of the net, but it was not to be, for the Blue Tigers. It was a historic win for Afghanistan, as it showed that India no longer held monopoly in the region.
Pic Credits: AIFF Media